An intriguing account of the Guinness World Records company: An organization that pays homage to human endeavor of any kind. But has some of the magic been lost over the years? Imogen West-Knights asks whether record-breaking has now become too much of a business — and entertains us with some of the obscure records that have been achieved along the way.

Furman keeps his GWR certificates, more than 700 of them, in a clear plastic box in his wardrobe. He has so many that he has stopped even applying for the certificates when he breaks a record. This is a man who knows precisely how many forward rolls will make you throw up, which brand of eggs are easiest to balance on a flat surface and which muscles in your feet fatigue first if you stand on a yoga ball for too long. He pulled out his copy of the first Guinness book, evidently well-thumbed, and read me the quote in the foreword about turning heat into light with the reverence an evangelical might quote a passage from the Bible.